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  • Writer's pictureAnya Coates

"You can never be overdressed or overeducated" - Oscar Wilde

Updated: Jul 24, 2019

"You can never be overdressed or overeducated" (Oscar Wilde) is a quote I have tried to live by for a long time now. Primarily, I focused on the "overdressed" aspect and took this to mean I could wear a dress or skirt when the dress code was 'casual jeans' and not feel uncomfortable when I looked fancier than most people I was with. I never thought to focus on the "overeducated" detail... Or perhaps subconsciously I did.

When I was in sixth year, we were encouraged to apply to universities that we were likely to be accepted into based on our grades. I looked at many courses in many cities, read through a lot of webpages and countless blogs describing other peoples experiences with university life and I have to admit: I was not taken by anything. I had never particularly wanted to attend university which made this whole process of applying even more of a chore, but through the encouragement of the careers department in Methodist College Belfast as well as the promise of "you can just apply and see how you feel when the time comes!" I thought it best to leave all the doors that I could open, however pessimistic I was feeling about my upcoming A Level results.

Alas, results day came and much (much much much) to my surprise I got into my first choice: Business and Public Relations at Liverpool John Moores University. I was shocked at how my feeling towards university suddenly changed. I was excited to go and live independently, I wanted to leave "wee Norn Iron" and discover the big bad city that was "mainland UK" and I must say, two years on, I'm so happy I decided to go for it. The opportunities that have arisen from university life have been incredible. From being the girl who didn't want to go I can now say I have studied at three seperate institutions around the world, which is pretty cool.

In the second year of my degree, we were told to start thinking about our third year: placement year. I am not the most motivated person in the world and would always take the mañana, mañana approach when it came to applications and online test centres. The only time I made any progress in a online application was when I found a placement with Airbus in Toulouse, France; and this was because I seemed to be hooked on living abroad.

A friend of mine from home had previously done Erasmus in Madrid, Spain and I had heard nothing but love and appreciation for this scheme from her. I began looking into Erasmus and what was offered by LJMU. When I found opportunities to study in places like the Czech Republic, Spain, Italy and France I felt as if I could go anywhere in Europe. I began asking friends of mine where they recommended, I bombarded strangers who I knew were Spanish asking what city was better to live in. Finally I fell in love with the idea to study in Valencia. It promised beaches, beautiful sunny weather for 300 days of the year and an architecturally stunning city centre.

As much as having a placement year in industry is important to teach you the benefits of working life, daily routine and how to manage money, my heart just wasn't set on staying in England for another year. When else was I going to have the chance to live and study abroad for free?

This opportunity would provide me with a lot more life experience than any job in England could. Being able to explore the world, adapt to a different culture or learn a new language are skills and qualities that can be transferred through careers and life. When I told my lecturer that I was partaking in Erasmus and not undergoing a year in industry, I firstly apologised. I was ashamed that I didn't and wouldn't have the experience of real work under my belt but when he responded I got a wave of relief. He ensured me that Erasmus was just as important, if not more valuable than what most of my peers had decided to do.

The future of Erasmus however is uncertain (see why here). With the UK voting to leave the EU, funding for this scheme is no longer guaranteed. I think myself very lucky to have been able to take advantage of such a rewarding and highly competitive scheme. Being educated by professionals and professors who have been able to avail of different opportunities than those back in the UK, who have a different teaching style than I am used to and who can introduce me to a new way of thinking on various topics, I believe this will indefinitely help me when I return to finish my degree in 2017 and allow me to have a fresh and widened view on issues thrust upon me.

AC :)

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